A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Grand Juries in Louisiana
Aug 21, 2023 by Shea Smith
When it comes to criminal trials, one of the most intriguing elements is the grand jury. A grand jury plays a critical role in the criminal justice system. Yet, many people don't understand what it is and how it operates.
In this blog post, we'll look at the grand jury, what it is, and how it operates. We'll also address what Louisiana law allows grand juries to do.
A grand jury is a group of people selected by a court to investigate possible criminal conduct. The members of the grand jury receive evidence presented to them by a prosecutor and then decide whether there is probable cause to charge someone with a crime. Unlike a trial jury, which determines guilt or innocence, a grand jury decides whether to bring criminal charges against someone. Grand juries typically consist of 12 members, and they typically sit for a period of around 12-18 months. In Louisiana, grand juries have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents, hear testimony under oath, and take other investigative steps as needed. If a grand jury decides to charge someone with a crime, that person is then indicted and proceeds to trial. It's worth noting that grand jury proceedings are generally secret. The grand jury process is designed to protect the accused from unfair charges, but it can also protect witnesses who may be in danger if their testimony is made public. There are some limitations to what grand juries can do under Louisiana law. For example, only the prosecutors may present evidence to the grand jury, so the accused party or their defense team cannot participate in the grand jury deliberations unless invited. Additionally, grand jury transcripts are generally not available to the public, and grand jury decisions are often sealed.
In conclusion, grand juries play an important role in the Louisiana criminal justice system. They have significant investigative powers and can bring criminal charges against individuals suspected of wrongdoing. While grand jury proceedings are often secretive and not available to the public, they serve an important function in ensuring that those accused of crimes are treated fairly and that justice is served for all parties involved. If you or someone you know is currently involved in grand jury proceedings or would like to learn more about them, it's always recommended that you consult with a qualified legal professional who can guide you through the process.